It’s hard to believe my Teddyman would be 4 years old today. A four year old in preschool, who loves the Patriots like his Daddy, going to the movies with his Mommy, and is the best big brother to his bossy little sister.  That’s what I picture anyways. I picture his perfectly decorated room, the way it was in Virginia but in my house now, right across from Royce’s room upstairs. I picture toys under the tree for two, and four chairs around the kitchen table, one for each of us. I picture how differently my life would be- how wonderful and complete my life would be with my boy, my girl, my husband, my dog, and my beautiful home. It’s funny how we can trick ourselves.  I lived the reality of Teddy’s life everyday for a year and two weeks – yet I choose my alternate reality- because the pain of it all is too much for anyone to take.

Reality is different- it’s real. A wheelchair is real- so is a feeding tube, and pain and seizure medicine needed to get through every day. Nurses, hospitals, and extensive paperwork needed to get through TSA so they don’t treat your kid like a bomb. His room and all of his personal belonging stored in a basement that has now flooded twice, an empty Christmas stocking, a bunch of framed baby pictures that can’t be upgraded, and a sister that only knows his gravesite. That’s reality. And reality can be so mean- a life with no speech, movement- and worst of all- thought. Reality is-we didn’t choose that life for him. Because the truth is- his life wasn’t getting better. And regardless of how black and white Alex is about it all, regardless that in my heart I know it was the right decision- it weighs on me daily and it’s exhausting. And three years later, I’m tired, I’m changed- I’m a truly different person than before Teddy.  But what I want to share more than anything- is through all the sadness, though all the tears, through all the sleepless nights- life is still worth living. Three years later, I’m a little more complex, fundamentally incomplete, but grateful. It’s taken me a long time to come to that conclusion, But shockingly, i’ll admit it- time does heal. It leaves an ugly scar that is visible everytime you look in the mirror- it leaves a different future, but a future nonetheless.

I’m complex, I always have been. I’m just that much trickier now to navigate. I’m such a kinder person in so many ways after this experience. I sympathize in ways I never would have before. I can accept that very few people have the experiences I do- but that their experiences are not any less painful for them. Maybe it’s their Mother, Uncle, or even a cat they lost- whoever it was- I can now respect their pain. But in some ways I’m a much less sympathetic person- especially to people who are a victim of their own stupidity, laziness, or poor decisions. If God gave you two working arms, two working legs, and a working brain between your ears- use them. I also have zero tolerance for intolerance. Take that one in. Gay, transitioning, whatever- people are people, everyone is someone’s child. Teddy could have been the queen of all queens and I would have embraced everything that he was. I just want him here- and there is nothing about who he may have been that I wouldn’t have loved.

I’m incomplete. I could have nine more children- and they will never fill the void left by Teddy. That hole is for him- and him alone. I’ve learned to live with it- to control my sadness around it- to fill other parts of heart to find happiness in spite of his absence. But i’m incomplete and there is nothing- not a career, money, other family that can solve for it.

I’m grateful. I’m grateful he existed, I’m grateful for the love he taught me, the Mommy he made me, and the coping skills he gave me. I’m the strongest woman I could ever be- because of him. I’m grateful that he knew what I needed even when I was blinded by sadness and anger- and that something was his sister. Without her- I would be a sad and lonely person. I 100% guarantee I wouldn’t be married, I wouldn’t have had more children, I wouldn’t have lived again. I don’t want this to sound like the best solution for a dead child is a replacement child- because that’s not the case. But when you don’t have other children to live for- not living becomes an option- and for the months between Teddy and Royce- that was the scary truth. Teddy gave me my family again- and I’ll never be more grateful than for that.

So for those struggling- just know- it will get better. Go easy on yourself. Take the days when you need them- and for those that don’t support you, get you, or love you- leave them.  

I love you to the moon and back Teddy Fish- happy fourth birthday. I’ll never let anyone forget you.

Xo, Mommy